Updated on 08.06.08

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Major Cold Edition

Trent Hamm

I’ve had some form of a cold for fifteen straight days now. I’ve considered going to the doctor a few times, but I really think it’s actually been at least three different colds because the symptoms are so different. It started off clearly as a sinus infection that appeared to largely go away, then it was replaced by a vicious sore throat that rendered me almost incapable of speaking, then it turned into what felt like an inner ear or jaw infection, and then into an upper respiratory thing. I’m actually pretty sure it’s been four different things, but I know I’ve spent two weeks in abject misery. If things aren’t better by Friday, I’m finally heading to the doctor.

Anyway, here are some interesting articles.

Dangerous Norms: When a Treat Becomes a Routine Matter I wrote this article over at Get Rich Slowly, which was something of a foreshadowing of my recent realization about my book addiction. (@ get rich slowly)

Why Is Rich Often Equated with Evil? I think it’s mostly due to the fact that wealth inherently means that you have more resources than someone else and that inherently makes you a target for others. One effect of being a target is that you’re painted with a negative brush in order to eliminate sympathy. (@ wise bread)

Should We Pay Off Credit Card Debt Before Having a Baby? Surprisingly, I don’t think so. My feeling is that if you wait for the “perfect” time to have a child, you’ll be waiting forever. Instead, ask yourself if you’re emotionally ready to be a parent. If you think you are and you truly want a child, the other pieces will fall into place. (@ frugal dad)

How Is Your Christmas Savings Fund Doing? Our fund was completed in June when we decided to put aside a piece of our economic stimulus package for the holiday. (@ gather little by little)

Is Eating Organic Food Worth The Money? Rather than moving towards organic, my family is eating more and more locally. We’re hitting farmer’s markets, buying from a local dairy (the wonderful Picket Fence Creamery in Woodward, Iowa), and we’re about to join a CSA. For us, it’s more of a food freshness issue – and also a relief that we’re not subsidizing the transportation of this food from another part of the globe. (@ lazy man and money)

Spend Less When Touring in DC Solid advice for visiting D.C. that’s applicable (in a general sense) to almost any large city one might visit. (@ mrs. micah)

Attaching Value: Is Something Always Worth It Just Because It’s Free? The word “free” bothers me (unless it’s a friend or family member that I know well) because I’ve learned over time that there’s never such a thing as a free lunch. You only get “free” stuff if there’s some sort of catch somewhere. (@ queercents)

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  1. Tori says:

    Go to the doctor now. I got a bad cough and cold in mid-November of 2007. I didn’t go to the dr. for a month. When I did go, the dr. put me on three courses of antibiotics to get rid of a sinus infection that may have never existed. (A sinus CT scan showed nothing wrong.)

    Then I had a constantly running nose and sneezing until about the fourth of July. I’m just now at the point where I can not take a Zyrtec and not end up suffering. Don’t be me.

  2. Anna G. says:

    I agree with Tori – get to a doctor ASAP. I had pneumonia several years ago and it started very similar to what you’ve described. The only difference is that mine started on a Friday and had progressed enough to send me to the doctor by Monday. One Z-pak and all was well again.

  3. tambo says:

    Trent, fwiw we all have the cold thing too. Mine started as allergies, moved to mouth blisters and post nasal drip, and it’s now all gucky in my throat and makes me hoarse. Other than that and a sleepy headache, I feel all right. I think it’s going around central Iowa.

    My doc said it’s a virus so I had to ride it out. DayQuil capsules seem to help.

  4. Melissa says:

    Men are crazy!!! Get to the doctor. Sounds like an untreated infection.

    Also do the steam thing: it’s the only thing that really gets rid of a sinus infection. Spray your nose with decongestant spray, wait a bit and blow your nose, then in five minutes spray again. Then use a steamer or the bowl of boiling water with a towel over your head for fifteen minutes. You have to get the gunk out of your head, or antibiotics will only go so far in treating an infection. (These instructions are almost verbatim from my doctor.)

  5. Jules says:

    Ugh, hope you feel better soon.

    I don’t think you quite fit the demographic for pneumonia, but if you’re taking a fever suppressant (Tylenol/aspirin/Advil or the generic equivalents thereof) try stopping. Yes, you’ll feel like hell, but a fever (of less than 103 F!) is far better at killing viruses than any drug the doctor could give.

  6. rb says:

    If I have to actually call in sick at work, then I’ll go to the doctor. Other than that, I give it two weeks of over the counter medication. Otherwise, with insurance, it costs me about $75 every time I have a cold that lingers.

    This is just to add a comment about your being a book junkie. I had to triple check to make sure you weren’t following me around with a camera, because that would describe my life from 8 years old on up.

    We would go to the library when I was little and I would check out 12 books. And I’d finish most of them before they were due back. Unfortunately for me, the library moved further north, so it’s not as convenient to go as it used to be.

    There are also books I know my library will never get if someone doesn’t donate them. I have toned down purchases to the point that I began bargain shopping, but it’s difficult to go cold turkey on the book buying. Here’s me writing myself a note to actually try the paperback swapping since I signed up for it due to your last post. Is this a good time to mention that I hate the idea of letting some of my beloved books go?

  7. Carrie says:

    Appreciated the article on treats becoming routine…. When I saw your book post yesterday I knew “Thats not me!” Now I realise I am using the excuse “It’s just a treat” atleast three times a week for various purchases.

  8. Brian Tate says:

    After reading about your nagging cold, I wanted to offer some un-asked for advice on being self-employed.

    I was self-employed as a computer programmer for 14 years and these two rules (there were actually three rules, but the third one doesn’t apply to your situation) always stood me in great stead; 1) Protect your health it’s your biggest and most important asset, 2) Save your money, you never know how many dry spells you’ll have or how long they’ll last.

    It sounds like you have the save your money part right.

    Always, always have a physical every year. I can’t stress this need enough. After 7 to 10 days with a cold, etc. get to a doctor. Don’t cheap out, you and your family can’t afford it.

    I speak from painful experience. I once allowed a nagging cold to turn into pneumonia that cost me two weeks of valuable work time.

    I enjoy your site and the articles. I don’t always agree, but it’s always entertaining and enjoyable.

    Good luck!


  9. Anna G. says:

    @Jules – What is the exact demographic for pneumonia? I was a very healthy 18 year old when it hit me.

  10. Laura in Seattle says:

    Trent — sounds like you (and maybe some of the other commenters) are a victim of a secondary infection. You get sick with one thing — a cold or bug — that your body manages to fight off. But while you are recovering and your immune system is weak, along comes a different cold or bug. Normally, it’d be too weak to get to you, but since your system is low, it makes itself at home and suddenly you have a completely different set of symptoms. I had this years ago in a six-week period where I had a viral infection in my neck/jaw, followed by a cold, followed by the flu. I was ill for six weeks straight and so weak when it was over that walking to the end of the block left me out of breath. Get to the doctor ASAP. The sooner they get you on treatment for what you currently have, the less chance you’ll add another infection to the chain.

  11. getagrip says:

    Is there some reason you want to suffer for two weeks? Excuse me for thinking that the reason we have doctors and antibiotics is to help us not be in misery for that length of time. It’s like the time I had unbelievable back pain around 11:00 pm and spent the night on my stomach squirming on the floor essentially gnawing the carpet because in my pain delirium I figured I’d wait until the doctor’s office openned the next morning to save the $50 dollar copay for the emergency room. That kidney stone taught me my lesson, and thankfully it wasn’t something more serious, like in your case, possibly becoming scarlet fever or pneumonia.

  12. Sarah says:

    My vote is for “go to the doctor now.” I’m sure your boss will let you take a couple of hours off. ;) (You could probably find some new material for the blog out of one doctor’s visit.) Whatever it is, it’s just making you weaker and more susceptible to infection. Last year I got some fever-cold-viral thing, and after a week it had progressed to pneumonia, which dragged on and on, and it was a couple of months until I felt that my lung capacity was back to “normal”. And I was young and healthy!

  13. KC says:

    Usually an extended “cold” in the summer is allergies. But if you don’t have a history of them then get to the doctor before you end up in the hospital.

  14. imelda says:

    “One effect of being a target is that you’re painted with a negative brush in order to eliminate sympathy.”

    I think it’s hysterical you say that in relation to rich people. This is exactly the psychological process that allows people to blame the poor for being poor and to have no sympathy for them. Why do the wealthy, as a group, need sympathy?

  15. rob says:

    Try drinking a glass of water mixed with three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and chew on a couple of raw cloves of garlic. It’s a powerful combination and you’ll discover that a doctor’s visit is unnecessary.

  16. Katie says:

    Saline spray will help! Bacteria and other crap can thrive in your sinuses if you get stuffed up. I have terrible allergies and this worked better for me than just about anything else.

    I understand not wanting to go to the doctor. I hope you feel better soon. Garlic, onions, tea, and honey (not all together haha) might help.

  17. Hey Trent! Here’s a thought: GET…SOME…SLEEP!

  18. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “I think it’s hysterical you say that in relation to rich people. This is exactly the psychological process that allows people to blame the poor for being poor and to have no sympathy for them. Why do the wealthy, as a group, need sympathy?”

    The point is that many groups are painted with a broad negative brush to serve someone else’s social prerogative.

    I feel a lot of sympathy for the person who worked twenty hour days to build a business for years to make it prosper, only to watch most of the gains eaten in taxes.

  19. Andre Kibbe says:

    Good call on the “free” observation. Free! is usually just the outer rim of a sales funnel, or an inducement designed to distract people from gratuitous purchases elsewhere (spending $16 on a second book you don’t really want to save $3 is shipping).

  20. Laura In Atlanta says:

    Trent . . . get your hiney to the doctor!

  21. TParkerson says:

    Hey Trent, at the risk of sounding like a nagging mom, take the car and go to the doc this afternoon or Thurs latest. One thing we all forget is that once a cold or the cooties get into our house, we have communal germs that often carry on all summer long. You are a reasonable, stable adult and if on your own, would have every right to “struggle along gallantly” but your babies don’t need your bugs!!

    If you were closer to the ocean, I would add my home remedy of choice, saline solution in the form of seawater…hey, do you and the family want to vacation near the water sometime? Doors open and the lights are on :)

    Seriously, be kind to yourself, get plenty of rest and feel better soon! Time’

  22. David says:

    Take it from a doctor, you need to get seen soon. Easily could be strep +/- bronchitis or pneumonia.

  23. Frugal Dad says:

    Trent, thanks for the link. Hope you get to feeling better soon–with, or without antibiotics!

  24. Hope you’re making an appointment with the doctor. ;)

    Thanks for the Christmas savings link. This is the first year EVER that we’ve started one and I feel so so so good about it. I hope that we can manage to do it every year.

  25. justin says:


    Rich people pay less taxes than you do. They have loop holes. Believe me, they really do.

  26. rkt88edmo says:

    neti pot yet? I’m pretty sure a couple people and myself have suggested it before – but I agree with the folks above who suggest sleep – how much sleep have you gotten lately?

  27. clint says:

    Sorry to hear your are sick man…get better soon. we need you at full strength.

    Clint Lawton


  28. Liz says:

    The saline and neti pot are definitely good ideas – another is to avoid dairy until you are better. Dairy is mucus forming in a lot of people and going off it helps shake allergy or cold type symptoms. Also the person who suggested letting your fever run it’s course for a couple days (if it is not extremely high) that is the way your body fights off illness – it’s good not to supress it too much.

    Of course do go to a doctor if things are getting worse.

  29. reulte says:

    Another vote for go see the MD (or osteopath or herbalist or your mom’s chicken soup or something).

    After 15 days I disagree with letting the fever lose, but if this were happening to me, I’d say that I ignored a slight sinus infection until it became a full-blown ear infection . . . and I would have pulled out the warm water and salt (with a little Arm&Hammer for buffering) – do some nasal irrigation about once every two hours and curl up in bed with some music in the background and maybe a little light reading. If no relief – then the MD the next day.

    Remember if you children catch what you have, they can’t blow their noses!

  30. Kathy says:

    Sorry about the illness. When something lingers, get to the doc. Sometimes it is not what it seems. Once I thought I had a cinder in my eye from cleaning the chimney, couldn’t flush it out. Then I got what i took to be an ear/throat infection, swelling, etc. Throbing headache. Went to the doc and she treated me for ear and sinus infection, even thought it might be a tooth abcess. Lo and behold, when the rash began to appear over my eye, she immediately put me in the hospital. Shingles!!!Could have been very serious had she not stayed on top of it. Symptoms of shingle can often be misleading, even to the doctors. Just something to keep in mind.

  31. Mrs. Micah says:

    Sorry to hear that. I don’t have much in the way of cold advice, except to take care of yourself and make sure you get enough sleep. And after this point, maybe see a doctor.

    Thanks for including my article.

    Get some rest!!

  32. liv says:

    ohhh, that DC blog reminds me I have to plan my trip when I go back there this fall…thanks for the reminder! (it helps when family lives there…free roomming!) :)

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